How to communicate with the hospital administrator

June 14, 2019

In this new world of big corporate medicine, the relationships that physicians have with their administrations can often be tense and uneasy

In this new world of big corporate medicine, the relationships that physicians have with their administrations can often be tense and uneasy. If you work in a facility with an amicable and friendly relationship, then you’ve really lucked out and that’s worth its weight in gold.

When doctors find themselves in a situation where they want to pass on their thoughts and feedback directly to administration, the question about how to go about doing this arises. For lots of doctors, especially the less experienced ones, the first port of call will be the director or chief of their group. But if there’s something to say directly to a senior administrator-whether it be the chief medical officer (CMO), vice presidentm or even the CEO-then it’s important to understand how to communicate during your meeting.

First, be absolutely clear about what your objective is and what points you want to convey to the administrator. Write these down beforehand.

Second, remember the background of the person with whom you will be speaking. If they are not clinically trained, tailor your speech appropriately, and avoid using medical jargon (doctors often make this mistake).

Third, you may have a lot to say, but it’s a wise idea to allow the administrator to talk first and explain themselves after you open with something like, “I’m here to talk about XYZ and the current situation, what are your thoughts on how things are going/where everything is at the moment?” This is also a great communication technique in general, since it puts the onus on the other person, can even make them feel uneasy and catch them off guard-all the while making you come across as the active listener and the one in control.

Finally, no matter how passionately you feel about the issue at hand, avoid coming across as confrontational or aggressive. At the end of the day, problems can only be solved by working together. Doctors and administrators need to have cordial relationships and be open and transparent with each other.

Go into your meeting with the attitude of wanting to discuss issues, promote understanding, and reach a consensus. It’s the best way forward.

Suneel Dhand, MD, is an internal medicine physician, author and speaker. He is the cofounder of DocsDox (www.DocsDox.com), a service that helps physicians find local moonlighting and per diem opportunities, bypassing the expensive middleman.